It’s early morning, dark, cold, windy, really windy actually, and it is raining. The rain feels freezing cold as it blows into my face. I carry on running as the wind does it best to push me backwards. It feels as if I’m getting nowhere, it feels like every stride I take is getting me no further forwards, at times it feels like I could remain static and just be running on the spot. I don’t stop but push forwards and push onwards. The wind isn’t easing, and the rain feels colder and colder the further I go. The landmarks I pass take longer to get to, I’m slower than I am usually on this route – a few thoughts pop into my head like ‘this average pace is going to be way slower than usual’, ‘my time looks awful at the moment, I’m going to have to pick up it massively on the way back’ – I don’t stop and push onwards.
Pushing forwards and onwards. I refuse to quit; I refuse to allow the weather to get the better of me. I keep my focus solely onto getting to the midway point and the benefits of a tailwind may have on the way back, hoping there is a tailwind. I refuse to quit and refuse to let my thoughts focus on turning back earlier than planned. Every time it seems tough I tell myself I will not be defeated and how I will feel for the rest of the day if I do quit early, how I will see myself as being weak, see myself as a quitter. I carry on, I push onwards and gradually get nearer to the turnaround point.
The wind and rain continue as I reach the turnaround point and rather than turning to head back, I carry for another mile. I have this sudden urge to tough it out a bit more to prove to myself I can do it, and I am not a quitter. I love training sessions like that and love training in conditions like that – I feel alive.
When the alarm went off, and I heard the wind and rain outside the temptation may well have been ‘leave it today’ and go back to sleep or ‘I’ll train later the weather will be better’. No way, lets get out there, lets push. It isn’t just a battle with the elements and whatever they can throw at me but also a battle with myself – as much as I could make it easier and turn around I refuse to do so, I want to push myself that bit further. It is those sessions that really count I think, those when you need to dig deep and carry moving forwards no matter what is thrown at you, keep going no matter how difficult it feels, keep going and remain focused on getting through.
Those nagging self-doubts will creep in. Shut them out, push them away, keep the focus on what is in front of you and not on quitting. It is something I have done constantly over the years when training and racing, it is those training sessions that get me to the finish line, it is because of those training sessions I can tough it out when things have been tough in races and I feel like quitting.
Times are tough. There are going to be times when we want to quit, want to throw the towel in, and feeling like you are static and just running on the spot. There is a turnaround up ahead and things will get easier when we get there but for the moment being focused, being able to shut out all the negative thoughts, being able to silence the nagging doubts, overcoming the temptation to crumble and quit is what counts and is a small step to getting to that finish line. Each time you overcome each of those see it as a victory.
Celebrate the small victories each and every day, focus on those small victories, those moments of not quitting. Build an internal mantra on how to silence those nagging doubts and every time that happens see it as a victory. Take those negative thoughts and think what I can do rather than not what I can’t do, every time you do that it is another small victory. Once those small victories start adding up you realise you are able to achieve more than you originally thought possible, it is a change of mindset and rather than focusing on the negatives you start looking at the challenge and how it won’t defeat you, and you won’t quit even though you know it will be tough at times. Keeping thinking small victories and push towards them.
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Richard Guy, 47 years of age, born and grew up in London and have lived in Portsmouth since 2017.